BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi High hosted its Homecoming game Friday night, but the highlight of the whole game wasn't just the tackles and touchdowns. When the homecoming royalty took to the field, all eyes were on one member of the court.
It's a dream for so many high school seniors, to walk down the football field as part of their school's homecoming court. Eighteen-year-old Ryan Murphy got to live that dream Friday, thanks to his fellow students.
Ryan was born with Down Syndrome. On Friday night, he escorted Molly Taylor at the Biloxi High homecoming game.
When asked how it felt to be an escort, Ryan replied with a big smile, "Oh, that's super dee duper! I am so excited about my friend Madison."
Madison Pontius is a Biloxi High cheerleader who rallied to get votes for Ryan.
"He's been my best friend for a long time. I just really love him. He's my best friend," said Madison. "I was so happy for him."
Like so many challenges in his life, Ryan tackled this one head-on. To get on the ballot, he had to start a petition and get 33 percent of his class to sign it. The support for him was overwhelming. Out of 48 seniors, Ryan was one of 15 chosen by the entire student body.
"They just all stood behind him and wanted him to get court really bad," said Biloxi High senior Molly Taylor. "If there was a homecoming king, he would have gotten it, no question."
"He's so nice. He has the best sense of humor. He makes everybody laugh, and we all want to make his senior year better and make him feel like a normal kid because he is," she added.
At a time where teens are often teased for how they look, Ryan's parents worried about their son being accepted. Eighteen years of fears and uncertainties finally melted away.
"I'm very happy," said Ryan's mom Sarah Murphy."I'll be very happy, very proud and it's going to be a great experience for everybody. It's a community."
"I'm blown away. This has been a dream come true for him to be accepted for who he is. This really says a lot for the younger generation," said his dad Mark Murphy.
Friday night, Ryan will continue his duties as an escort at the school's homecoming dance.